Hiring Employees in Italy

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Last updated at November 28, 2022
Picture of Altare della Patria

Currency Used in Italy

Euro (EUR)

The Capital of Italy

Rome

Italian Time Zone

GMT+1

Important Facts About Italy

Introduction to Italy

Italy, officially ‘Repubblica Italiana,’ is a unitary parliamentary democracy with a population of around 60 million people. The country is the third most populous in the European Union and hosts the world’s largest number of World Heritage Sites.

Italian Geography

Italy is a country in Southern Europe, dominated by the Alps and Dolomites in the north and sharing land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. To the south lies the Italian Peninsula, which is surrounded by the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. The islands of Sardinia and Sicily also belong to Italy.

The Climate of Italy

The climate of Italy is very diverse due to the geographical longitude of the peninsula and the extensive mountainous formations in the north.

Italian Culture

Italy has played an important role in Western culture for many centuries and continues to be recognized for its cultural traditions and artists. Large scale historic emigration has further contributed to Italy’s expansive diaspora and worldwide cultural influence.

Religion Practiced in Italy

As of 2017, approximately three quarters of Italians identified as Roman Catholic Christians. The Vatican City State is an enclave within the city of Rome, where The Holy See is administered by the Roman Curia (Roman Court). This serves as the central government of the Catholic Church.

Official Language of Italy

Italy’s official language, as recognized by law, is Italian. Many regional varieties of Italian and some recognized regional minority languages are also spoken in Italy. The second-most widely spoken language is Romanian, which reflects on the considerable immigrant population.

Hiring Employees in Italy at a Glance

Employment Law That Governs Hiring Practices in Italy

In Italy, individual employment contracts and labor relationships are governed by the following in order of precedence:

  • The Constitution of the Italian Republic sets forth general labor principles and regulations for many employment issues.
  • The Civil Code of 1942 regulates employment and labor matters under Section III Articles 2094-2134.
  • Additional laws are passed occasionally by Parliament. Labor legislation has traditionally been continually enhanced in order to better protect employees.
  • Regulations can be issued by non-parliamentary authorities.
  • National Collective Bargaining Agreements (NCBA) also regulate employment rules.
  • Local customs and practices will also influence employment practices, pertaining to issues not already governed by existing legal provisions or by the provisions of a NCBA.

Furthermore, as a member state of the European Union (EU), and a signature of the Treaty of Rome, Italy is subject to EU directives, regulations and the decisions of the European Court of Justice.

Does Italy Require an Employment Contract?

In Italy, there is no specific requirement for a written employment contract to be concluded. If written, the contract is not required to be in Italian. However, in order to be valid, certain clauses must be in writing, including the probationary period, fixed-term period and non-competition clauses. In addition, the employer must inform the employee in writing, within 30 days of starting employment, of the following:

  • Identity of the parties
  • Place of work
  • Date on which the contract begins
  • Duration of the contract (and specifying whether it is fixed-term or permanent)
  • Probationary period (if applicable)
  • Job title or category
  • Salary
  • Duration of paid holidays
  • Working hours
  • Length of the notice period (when terminating the contract)

Mandatory Contract Terms and Exceptions in Italy

Most employment rules are mandatory and cannot be amended by the parties. The exception to this is if more favorable provisions are being provided to the employee.
Employers can lawfully and unilaterally adjust an employee’s role or position, provided the new role or position pertains to the same level and category of classification as was previously assigned to the employee.

Probation Period/ Trial Period in Italy

Probationary periods (‘periodo di prova’) are common in Italy and the length varies depending on the terms of the applicable collective bargaining agreement (CBA). However, in all instances, the maximum term for a probationary period is six months.

Italian Rules Regarding Working Hours

In principle, employees must work 40 hours per week, except when more favorable provisions are afforded the employees of National Collective Labor Agreements (NCLA). The duration of the weekly working time cannot exceed 48 hours a week, including overtime. This is to be calculated over a period not exceeding four months, unless the applicable NCLA increases such a period up to six months.

Rules Relating to Overtime in Italy

Overtime work cannot exceed a threshold, as prescribed by the applicable NCLA or a maximum of 250 hours per annum. Overtime should only be requested on an occasional basis due to exceptional circumstances, technical requirements, productive reasons or particular events. Overtime must be paid to the employee with an increase of salary. Different rules may apply to middle managers and executives.

Italy's Acceptable Termination Policies

Italian rules on dismissal are quite complex and subject to frequent material changes. The rules vary based on: 1) the headcount, 2) the reason for the dismissal, 3) the classification of the employee and 4) the date of hiring of the employee.

To assess the proper procedure and determine the consequences of a dismissal, the following circumstances should be considered:

1. The date of hiring of the employee; distinguishing if the employment started before 7 March 2015 (“old hiring”) or after such date (“new hiring”);

2. Headcount of the employer; with “Big Employers” being considered organizations exceeding one of the following:

  • 15 employees in one location or in more locations within the same municipality
  • 60 employees within the Italian territory.

3. Category of the employee, since the dismissal of executives follows different rules.

Collective dismissal

A collective dismissal occurs whenever a “big employer” does the the following:

  1. dismisses five or more employees;
  2. in the same business unit/more business units located in the same province;
  3. within a period of 120 days; and
  4. due to a reduction, reorganization or shutdown of the company’s business.

Employees to be dismissed are chosen according to the criteria set out by the law or by the agreement reached with the applicable unions.

Individual dismissal

An individual dismissal must be communicated in writing and specify the relevant grounds.

An employee can be lawfully dismissed if a just cause or a justified reason occurs, where:

  • A just cause occurs when an employee’s very serious misconduct makes the continuation of the employment relationship impossible.
  • A justified subjective reason is a breach of the employee’s duties but not so serious as to trigger a “just cause.”
  • An objective business reason is a reason concerning the productivity, the organization of the work or the operation of the company (e.g. the removal of the position where no other duties can be assigned to the employee).

Executive dismissal

Different rules apply to the dismissal of executives (‘dirigenti’). The executive’s dismissal is deemed to be justified only if it is as a result of one of the following:

  • objective reasons related to the employer’s economic, organizational and production-related needs
  • subjective reasons related to performance.

Following serious misconduct, the ‘dirigente’ can be dismissed for just cause. When this happens, the termination is effective immediately and the ‘dirigente’ is not entitled to any notice period. Furthermore, whenever a dismissal is due to subjective reasons, a specific disciplinary procedure must be followed by the employer prior to serving the dismissal.

Prohibited dismissals

The following dismissals are prohibited and, as such, null and void. If these types of dismissals happen, the terminated employee has the right of reinstatement (even if executive) and is entitled to payment of all the salaries accrued from the dismissal date through the reinstatement:

  • dismissals based on retaliation or discriminatory reasons
  • dismissal of female workers from the announcement of her marriage until one year after its celebration
  • dismissal from the beginning of a pregnancy until one year after the birth in the case of female workers
  • dismissal of fathers who take paternity leave, from the duration of the leave until one year after the birth.

Italian Rules Regarding an Employee's Notice Period

The employee’s notice period will usually be set out in the CBA and is calculated in accordance with the employee’s length of service, position and level in the company.
Garden leave does not exist under Italian law. Indeed, an employee has a right to maintain work, even during the notice period. Therefore, to continue paying salary t during the notice period without the employee working is only permitted with the consent of the employee.

Redundancy / Severance Pay Requirements for Employers in Italy

In any case of termination, the employer must give the employee a severance indemnity (‘Trattamento di Fine Rapporto’ or TFR). For each year of service, the TFR requires payment of 1/13 of the annual gross global salary to the employee. During the employment, the TFR accruals are registered in the financial statements. Alternatively, upon the employee’s request, the accruals can be paid directly to a complementary pension fund. If this option is taken, there is no TFR payment due at the termination date.

The Italian Timesheet System

The European Court of Justice stated in 2019 that companies must implement an objective, reliable and accessible system to record the working time of their employees.

Trade Unions in Italy

In Italy, unions are primarily organized by the industry sector. All employees within a specific industry belong to the same union, regardless of the function of their particular job or occupational qualifications.

The Framework of Fixed-Term Contracts for Italian Employees

An employment contract normally has an unlimited duration, with the Italian labor framework encouraging the hiring of permanent subordinate employees. However, there are various forms of subordinate employment contracts that allow, under certain conditions, some flexibility to employers and employees.

Employers can hire fixed term employees for a maximum duration of 12 months, provided they do not exceed 20% of the total headcount. A different threshold can be set forth by the applicable NCLA. The maximum duration does not apply to fixed-term contracts entered into:

  • to replace absentee employees
  • to meet seasonal needs
  • with employees over 55
  • for startup reasons.

Fixed-term hiring for a longer duration is difficult to be lawfully implemented since it can be executed only if one of the following “temporary reasons” is specified in the contract and actually occur:

  • temporary and objective needs (unrelated to the employer’s ordinary activities)
  • temporary, significant and unforeseeable increase of the employer’s ordinary activity
  • there is a need to replace an employee who is on maternity leave, parental leave or sick leave

A further term can be applied only if at least one of the above “temporary reasons” is present. In any case, this can be no longer than 24 months.

Furthermore, under certain conditions, an employee who works for an employer under a fixed-term contract for more than six months enjoys some rights to priority hiring if the employer is hiring permanently for the same duties.

Under a fixed-term contract, neither the employee nor the employer can terminate the employment before the expiration of the term unless in the case of just cause.

What You Must Know About Taxes and Social Security in Italy

Personal Income Tax Rates and Rules

Individual income tax is applied to employment income, income from independent activities, income from capital, business income, income from immovable property and other miscellaneous income.

The personal income tax in Italy is progressive, rising to a maximum rate of 43% for income exceeding EUR 75,000. The other rates are listed in the individual tax rate table below. Additional regional tax applies at rates ranging from 0.7% to 3.33%, depending on the region in which the individual is located. An additional municipal tax ranging from 0% to 0.8% may also be owed, depending on the municipality of the taxpayer.

Taxable Income (EUR)
Tax Rate %
Up to 15,000 23%
15,001 – 28,000 27%
28,001 – 55,000 38%
55,001 – 75,000 41%
Over 75,000 43%

Policies Regarding Social Security Contributions

Employees in Italy are subject to various mandatory social security contributions.

The employer’s share of these numerous contributions ranges from approximately 29% to 32% of taxable compensation. This amount will depend on various criteria, such as the seniority of the employee, the type of the activity, the number of the employees, the terms of the applicable CBA, etc.

The employee’s share of these contributions ranges from 9.19% to 10.49% of taxable compensation. This amount will depend on the classification of the employee (worker, executive or manager) and the employer’s activity (manufacturing, trading, tourism, etc.) The employer withholds the employee’s social security contributions from the monthly salary.

*The above rates serve as a broad guideline. Actual rates charged by GoGlobal will differ.

HR Procedures and Policies That Affect Employees in Italy

Rules Regarding Payment of Salary

Salary is paid at the end of the working month, as established in the company policies or by the NCBA. Italian law also provides for an annual 13th payment, paid for the Christmas holidays. This amount corresponds to one month’s remuneration. In addition, certain NCBAs or individual contracts may provide for the payment of a 14th payment, which is usually paid in July.

Italian Law Requiring Payslips

Italian law requires the net salary paid to employees must be stated in a pay slip, specifying the period of service which the salary refers to, the amount and the value of any overtime. The payslip must outline all the elements that constitute the amount paid, as well as all withholdings made in accordance with Italian law.

Minimum Annual Leave Requirements and Holiday Carry Over Rules

All employees are entitled to a minimum of four weeks’ (20 days) paid annual holiday. CBAs and individual contracts may allow for a longer period of holiday leave. Minimum annual leave is not allowed to be replaced by a payment in lieu, except in cases where the employment contract is terminated.

Carry Over Rules: Holiday can be rolled over into the next holiday year by the employee. There is no cap set on the total number of days that can be accrued by the employee.

Italian Sick Leave Policies and Statutory Sick Pay Rules

In the event of employee illness or injury, CBAs or individual contracts generally provide for a period of paid time off. During this leave, the employee is entitled to keep their job and to receive their salary in the proportion and for the period set out in any applicable CBA or the individual employment contract. After this period, the employer can dismiss the employee by giving notice. This period is generally between six and 12 months. This applies in cases of both a single period of sick leave and multiple periods.

Statutory sick pay starts on the fourth day of sickness. The first three days are “waiting days” and are typically paid in full by the employer. Statutory sick pay is capped at a maximum of 180 days per calendar year. Between the fourth and 20th day of illness, the statutory sick pay amount is, generally, equal to 50% of average daily pay. This moves up to 66% between the 21st and 180th day. During the sickness period, the employment continues to have legal effect. Consequently, all employee rights (such as seniority, holidays, permits, etc.) continue to be accrued by the employee.

The Carer's Rights Law and How it Relates to Compassionate & Bereavement Leave

The Carers’ Rights law in Italy provides for several kinds of paid ordinary or extraordinary leave entitlements for subordinate employees who are in one of the following categories:

  • Employees who are parents or relatives of disabled children
  • Employees who are married to (or have relatives who are) adult dependents, whose disability is of a serious nature and has been assessed by a state medical panel

Employees are entitled to request up to two years’ extraordinary leave. During this period, the employee receives a monthly amount equal to the normal monthly salary, up to a fixed gross annual threshold set up each year by the Ministry of Labor.

Additionally, all employees are entitled to three days’ paid leave per year in the case of death or documented serious illness of a spouse, a relative within the second degree or a stable cohabitant.

Each parent has the right to unpaid leave to take care of a sick child under three years old. However, the two parents cannot both take this period of leave at the same time. Each parent has the right to up to five days’ unpaid leave per year to take care of a sick child between three and eight years old. However, again, the two parents cannot both take this period of leave at the same time.

National Recognized Public Holidays in Italy

There are 12 public holidays in Italy, which are not included in the minimum holiday leave entitlement. However, any holidays falling on a weekend are not moved to a weekday. Major cities may also observe a regional holiday on the festival day of their patron saint.

Rights, Responsibilities and Rules Pertaining to Maternity & Parental Leave

Maternity rights
Female employees must not work for two months before nor three months following childbirth. This mandatory period of maternity leave can be shifted to up to five months used all after childbirth, if a medical certificate is produced.

A female employee can request to go on early maternity leave in certain circumstances. For example, this applies if her duties involve lifting or moving heavy objects. In this case, a medical certificate is required, together with an authorization from the Employment Office. However, the employer’s consent is not needed.

During the entire pregnancy, and for a period after childbirth, the employee must not be allocated tasks that may endanger her health.

During maternity leave, employees receive an allowance from the National Social Security Body, equivalent to 80% of their salary.

In cases of voluntary or therapeutic termination of pregnancy after 180 days from the beginning of the pregnancy or where the child dies during maternity leave or during the birth, female employees can return to work at any time with at least ten days’ notice to the employer. This allowance is subject to specific medical approval.

After maternity leave, employees are entitled to return to the same job in which they were employed before taking the leave. Employers cannot dismiss female employees during pregnancy and until the child is one year old, except in certain circumstances.

Additionally, the resignations and mutual termination agreements entered into with mothers during pregnancy or with parents of children under the age of three must always be validated and confirmed by such mothers or fathers through a special procedure.

Failure to do this will render the resignation or mutual termination agreement ineffective.

Paternity rights
If the mother does not take her maternity leave (because of death, infirmity or the father having exclusive custody), the father is entitled to the entire or remaining period of maternity leave. This right is not applicable in any other circumstances.

Employees on paternity leave are entitled to the same allowance, the same rights to return to their job after paternity leave and the same protections against dismissal as employees on maternity leave.

Additionally, as of January 1, 2020, fathers must take ten days of paid paternity leave within five months of the child being born. They can also take a further day, within the same timeframe, in the place of the mother’s leave.

Parental leave (optional leave)

During the first 12 years of the child’s life, parents are entitled to take a period of absence to take care of their children. Parental leave can be taken by the mother and by the father for a maximum period of six months. Alternatively, the leave can be taken by one parent only for a maximum period of 10 months.

Adoption rights

Employees who have adopted children are entitled to take a three-month period of maternity or paternity leave during the first three months the child is integrated into the family. The adoptive parents are entitled to the same financial benefits as parents of natural children. They can also take parental leave, during the first three years that the child is in the family, for the same periods and with the same financial benefits as parents of natural children.

Leave due to child’s illness

During the first eight years of a child’s life, parents are entitled to be absent from work when their child is ill.

Benefits to the Employee in Italy

Statutory Benefits Provided by Italian Social Security, the National Health Service & Other Insurers

The Italian social security system is funded by contributions paid by employed workers, employers, independent workers and self-employed workers. It is also funded through general taxation. The benefits provided include:

  • Health services
  • Sickness compensation
  • Maternity and paternity pay
  • Incapacity and disability benefit
  • Old age pensions
  • Survivors’ pensions
  • Benefits to cover accidents at work or occupational diseases
  • Family benefits
  • Unemployment benefit
  • Social inclusion and income support measures
  • Civil incapacity and long-term care benefits

The National Health Service (SSN) is funded by all residents of Italy through taxes, as well as through copayment of the cost of medicines and health services through and managed by the individual regions through the Local Health Authorities (LHA).

If a workers belongs to any of the categories of workers indicated below, they are insured by the National Institute for Social Security (INPS):

  • Employees of the private sector registered with the employed workers pension fund (FLPD)
  • Employees in the public sector
  • Independent workers registered with the relevant special schemes
  • Self-employed workers registered with a separate scheme

The INPS also administers special social security schemes and funds for certain categories of workers, including clergy, civil aviation flight staff and miners. Other bodies under private law manage a worker’s obligatory social security and support if they belong to a certain category of professionals (e.g. lawyers, doctors, engineers, architects, notaries, etc) signed up with the specific pension scheme or fund.

The National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL) manages Italy’s insurance system, which is funded through contributions paid by employers. This system protects workers in case of:

  • Accidents
  • Death in the workplace
  • Occupational disease

The INAIL provides:

  • Temporary benefits
  • Annuities in the event of permanent disability
  • Compensation in the event of death

Additional Benefits for Improved Work/Life Balance

Flexible work to allow work-life balance: Italian law includes several provisions aimed at combining personal life with working life, including part-time, remote work (or ‘smart work’), teleworking or work from home. Special rules regulate health and safety for workers and their right to disconnect.

Customary supplementary benefits include:

  • Private health insurance
  • Company car
  • Mobile phone
  • Meal voucher
  • Additional training

Rules Regarding Visas and Foreign Workers in Italy

General Information for Foreign Workers

EU and EEA Nationals

According to the principle of free movement of persons, goods, services and capital, EU (European Union) and EEA (European Economic Area) and Swiss nationals may be employed in Italy without any authorization by the Italian authorities.

However, if their stay in Italy is for a period in excess of three months, they should apply for a permanent residency card. This is issued by the local state police office. The permit is renewable.

Non-EU, EEA or Swiss Nationals

Foreign workers must apply for their residence permit (‘Permesso di Soggiorno’) within eight days of arrival in Italy. The admission of non-EU foreign workers is subject to a mechanism of quantitative selectivity, which is based on quotas set each year. These quotas are meant to regulate the admission of third country nationals and their access to the Italian labor market.

The determination of annual quotas of foreign workers is conducted by the government, which sets the quota. The implementation process of the quota system is comprised up of three main steps:

  • The employer issues the authorization request to the Immigration Single Desk (ISD)
  • The worker issues the visa request in their country of origin
  • Request and delivery of the residence permit for working purposes

Authorization Request: Employers must request authorization to hire a foreign worker through the Immigration Single Desk. Once all the checks have been made by the labor authority and by the local state police office, the authorization (‘nulla osta’) may be delivered to the applicant employer. The whole procedure can take up to 40 days from the application.

Visa issuance: Once the authorization is delivered to the employer, they send it on to the individual foreign worker to be recruited. The recruited worker must present in-person at the Italian diplomatic representation in his or her country of origin and request a visa for working purposes. The authorization is valid for six months. During this period, the visa should be issued.

Residence Permit (‘Permesso di Soggiorno’) issuance: Once the employee has entered Italy with a work visa, they have eight days to apply for a residence permit. The work visa should be presented along with additional supporting documents. The foreign department (‘Ufficio Stranieri’) of the local Italian police headquarters will issue the Italian residence permit, allowing the employee to both live and work in Italy.

Public Holidays Recognized by Italy in 2022

S.No Occasion Date
1 New Year’s Day January 1st
2 Epiphany January 6th
3 Easter Sunday April 17th
4 Easter Monday April 18th
5 Liberation Day April 25th
6 International Workers’ Day May 1st
7 Republic Day June 2nd
8 Assumption Day August 15th
9 All Saints’ Day November 1st
10 St Patron’s Day December 7th
11 Immaculate Conception December 8th
12 Christmas Day December 25th
13 2nd Day of Christmas December 26th

Above list is of national Holidays established by law, there are also additional locally observed patron saint festival days

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